Models of general community assembly mechanisms simulating the spatial and temporal dynamics of benthic biodiversity
Abstract: Benthic macroinvertebrates are part of a complex network of interactions. The spatial and temporal scales of the processes that form the basis for these interactions have traditionally restricted their empirical investigation. The first chapter of the manuscript attempts a review of the modelling tools that have been employed for the study of the marine benthos.The implementation of a mechanistic modelling framework seems fitting, but it requires the derivation of a few model entities with a clear functional role. The second chapter of the manuscript employs the emergent group hypothesis to do that in a way that is objective and testable. The resulting grouping is tested against theoretical expectations and the results support its ability to represent functional diversity in the Rance estuary.The lack of knowledge for the attribution of relationships among functional components is still important. The third chapter of the manuscript addresses this issue based on ecological theories that predict the existence of functional trade-offs operating at both large and small spatial scales. In a first conception of the system, these elements are incorporated in the form of general rules of interaction into qualitative models of the functional groups.In spite of the interest in developing and analysing qualitative models, the goal of studying the dynamic and spatially explicit behaviour of benthic biodiversity can only be reached by a model with the same characteristics. The fourth chapter of the manuscript presents the architecture of an individual-based model, primarily transferring the rules of interaction from the qualitative models to a dynamic and spatially explicit framework.
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